Monday, January 29, 2018

Craft-Brewed Coffee: the truth is in the cup

If you decide to make craft-brewed coffee in your coffee shop, there are three important things to keep in mind and one simple way to illustrate all of these principles.

Respect the Process – Understanding that every step matters.

Respect the Ingredients – “Handling with care” those individual elements that make your final product.

Respect your Customer – Knowing you were chosen for your (professed or realized) expertise, and honoring that mutual understanding by combining process and ingredients to create an exceptional experience.

Learning your craft takes time.

You learn the fundamentals by watching your superiors. Over time, you understand the proper use and meaning of those fundamentals until you master them. Finally, you make the fundamentals your own and you begin your journey as a craftsman, and after years of executing at a high-level with the proper mindset, you will become a master of your craft.

As your skill in your craft increases, you will attract a more discerning customer. You should always treat the customer with the intelligence they deserve for seeking you out. The customer wants your coffee. The customer expects you to have confidence and knowledge and to display both in the execution of your craft. The customer is coming for a remarkable experience that will change their perceptions of coffee. Prove it in the cup.

And the cup – well it's highly important. It is one of the ways to clearly communicate to your customer those core principles of craft. As I mentioned to a friend of mine when talking about craft-brewed coffees by hand – coffee goes in the cup it deserves. When you are brewing any coffee using a “craft brewed” method, if you serve it in a paper cup (to go) then what does that communicate to your customer about your coffee? If you serve it in ceramic what does that communicate to your customer about your coffee? And if you serve it in a cup specifically chosen for that coffee based on flavor, aromatics, and beauty, then what does that communicate to your customer about your coffee?

The cup(s) you serve your craft-brewed coffee in says everything about what you believe as a business. Your actions will show what your core principles are. When you try to build your credibility by talking about the coffee's origins, explaining your roasting profiles, giving precise scientific explanations of your methods, or talking with passion and conviction -  whatever it is – every word of it is a complete lie if you serve your craft-brewed coffee “to go.” And you know it.

If you take five minutes to create a meticulously hand-brewed coffee for your customer and then you hand them a paper cup, what are you saying to your customer? 

You are saying, “Hey, here's your cup of coffee. Bye bye.”

If you offer coffee by the cup using a hand-brewed method, then you are making a statement about craft and quality. Think of it as a conversation. The first part of the conversation the customer “hears” is a hand-brewed coffee, and then the second part of the conversation is the coffee in a paper cup. This is not clear communication. The paper cup is the last thing you communicated to your customer, it is the statement you are making about your coffee. It communicates something completely different than what your brewing method implies. You are now saying “Here. This is the cup our coffee deserves to be in.”

Now if you do your craft-brewed coffee method and you serve your coffee in ceramic or china – what does that communicate to your customer? It says, “You are important and we want you to hang out with us. After all, Queen's china! You are special. This coffee is special – that's why it is in the fancy cup.”

The entire process matters. So quality of coffee, the skill of the roaster, your skill with that particular brewing method, and the last step is how you present your coffee to the customer. The cup is an important and often overlooked part of the conversation you are having with your customer. By serving your craft-brewed coffee in a proper cup you are showing respect for the process, respect for the ingredients, and respect for your customer. The truth is in the cup.